Category: Photography


THE MAN AND HIS MILLION-DOLLAR PHOTO: Ralph Clevenger next to the photo he created. Photo courtesy of Ralph Clevenger

The professional photographer who created a popular poster image takes it apart.

Why is it that we think that buying a new camera will help us become more creative with our photography?

Why do we think that buying more lenses and gear will help us break out of our “photographer’s block”? Why is it that whenever we buy a new camera, lens, or tripod — we suddenly revert back to baseline enthusiasm after 2 weeks?

Trust me, I’m the first to say that I’m a sucker for gear. I always “need” the newest smartphone, laptop, tablet, and gadgets. I think a lot of this comes from a sense of insecurity. I am afraid that if I don’t have the newest and the greatest, somehow my creativity will be throttled.

In reality, I’ve found the opposite to be true. Having too much gear, equipment, and stuff hinders us. It distracts us. It weighs us down, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

I still haven’t cured all of my G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) ills. But finally for once in my life, I feel a little peace and tranquility. So consider this as a letter to myself. None of this might apply to you. But I hope you find a few points that can be helpful.

1. Don’t forget about “hedonic adaptation”


Why is it that after we buy a new camera, we are initially super excited, enthusiastic, and inspired— then 2 weeks later it starts to collect dust on our shelves (like every other camera that we bought in the past?)

Psychologists call this adjustment to our new possessions as “hedonic adaptation.” Hedonism meaning feeling pleasure. Adaptation meaning that no matter what we buy, we will sooner or later “get used to it.”

If you think about “pleasure” as electric signals stimulating our brain — there is a point where novelty wears off. Ask any heroin addict— there is a certain point that getting more and more dopamine to hit your brain, you get adjusted.

It is hard for me to remind myself that no matter what I buy, I will get used to it after about 2 weeks or a month or so.

This happens to everyone. If you buy a new fancy car, suddenly you get used to it — and then you’re looking for the next new fancy car to buy.

The same happens for smartphones. We think that the newest phone will change and revolutionize our lives. But after 2 weeks, it becomes like any other metal slab with a touch screen.

The same thing happens with cameras. There will always be new cameras, with more dials, more megapixels, and new functions. All new cameras will have faster and more accurate autofocusing systems, better high-ISO performance, and better image quality.

Yet whenever I have bought a new camera — my photography has never improved. If anything, buying a new camera introduces a plethora of new problems — more megapixels means we need to buy more storage. Bigger files means that we need to buy faster computers. And the more we upgrade our cameras and lenses, the bigger they generally get — and the more weight we feel in our shoulders. We can’t walk as long without pain. Therefore we end up taking fewer photos.


I’ve actually realized that the 2-week adjustment “hedonic adaptation” concept works for cameras that are cheaper.

For example, regardless if you buy a $500 camera or a $5000 camera, you will get “used to” each camera after about 2 weeks.

Therefore doesn’t it make more logical sense to invest in a cheaper camera, because you’re going to get used to it anyways? And you can use all that extra money to attend photography workshops, buy photo books, or travel. And psychologists have shown that we feel greater “happiness” when we invest in experiences, not stuff.

I also have learned what this means is to set a limit to the gear that you buy. There is a certain point where you don’t need better image quality, megapixels, or other functions. Set a limit— and once you reach it, and are satisfied— you will end up using all your extra mental energy to actually going out and taking photos and being creative.

2. More cameras, more problems


When I used to own lots of different cameras and lenses, I would suffer from “choice anxiety.” I wanted to go out and shoot, and had no idea which camera, lens, or setup to use. I wasted precious mental energy figuring out how to best “optimize” my gear— to make the best possible photos.

More cameras, more problems.

The more cameras we own, the more cameras we need to charge. The more cameras we own, the more difficult it is to organize our files on our computers. The more cameras and lenses we have, the less time and focus we have to master one camera and one lens.

Not only that, but I felt that when I owned many different cameras and lenses— I would feel guilt for not using all of them. Kind of like being a parent and neglecting a certain child.


I personally believe in the “one camera, one lens” philosophy. But I don’t expect you to do what I do.

Instead, there are different strategies to simplify your life.

For example, whenever you buy a new camera, try to sell 2 of your cameras. Whenever you buy a new lens, try to sell 2 of your lenses that aren’t being used much.

Or another way you can simplify your life — categorize your gear for different needs.

For example, one of your cameras can be used for your professional work.

One of your cameras can be used to photograph your personal photos — your kids, friends, and family.

One of your cameras can be your dedicated street photography camera.

Essentially there is no “evil” of owning lots of different cameras. What I’m trying to state is that by owning more cameras than you need, it will add stress, anxiety, and frustration to your life. And therefore you will end up being less productive, creative, and effective with your image-making…




By Sara Barnes

It’s hard to understand just how big (or small) something truly is, especially when it appears in an unfamiliar context.Kevin Wisbith has put some exceptionally “large” things into perspective by placing them into situations where we have a better grip on scale. So for those of us who cannot conceptualize the true width of a B-2 Bomber or the world’s largest oil tanker, Wisbith’s comparisons will provide clarity and even surprise you.

The series of 10 images is called A Quick Perspective, and it’s a digital compilation featuring architecture, nature, science fiction, and design. Wisbith has done the math and seamlessly combined two disparate subjects for a head-scratching effect. Even if you have a vague idea of something’s size, seeing it in another context will change your perception of it. The Death Star, for instance, might seem massive on film, but it’s only a quarter the length of Florida. On that scale, it’s much less menacing!

Check out A Quick Perspective, with Wisbith’s original captions, below.

Above: The 2.6 Trillion Dollar Rock
The Dionysus asteroid is part of the Apollo asteroid belt. The Dionysus asteroid is estimated to be 1.5 km wide or 4921.26 feet. The value of the resources estimated to be within the asteroid is around $2,600,000,000,000. If the asteroid was placed above the Golden Gate Bridge, it wouldn’t even surpass the bridge span.

The Death Star
Although the Death Star doesn’t exist in reality, it’s truly the biggest and most bad-ass machine ever conceived. The Death Star’s estimated width is around 99 miles across, or around 1/4th the length of Florida.

The Mir Mine
The Mir Mine located in Russia is one of the deepest mines in the world. The official depth is 1,722 feet deep. If the 2nd tallest building in the United States, the Willis or Sears Tower which is 1,729 feet tall was placed in the mine, the tip would only stick out 7 feet past ground level.

B-2 Bomber
The B-2 Bomber is one of the worlds most advanced and most expensive airplanes in the world. What most people don’t realize is how big these things really are. The wingspan of a B-2 is 172 feet which is 12 feet wider than an NFL football field.

Worlds Largest Oil Tanker
The largest oil tanker ever produced was the Seawise Giant which spanned 1,504 feet. If placed in the main lake in New York’s Central Park it would only have 350 feet of extra room on the front and back.

The Titanic
When it was built the Titanic was one of the largest ships built. It’s total length was 882 feet and 9 inches long. Since then ship building has come a long way. The United States aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan is 1,092 feet long. If the Titanic was placed on the deck of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan the ship would have 210 feet of deck room left.

The M-1 Rocket Motor
The M-1 Rocket motor was designed back in the 1950s for the NASA space program and would have been the biggest motor ever built had it been constructed. It’s designed diameter was 14 feet, or wide enough to fully cover a Smart Car with 2 feet to spare on either side.

The Pulmonoscorpius kirktonensis or (Breathing Scorpion)
Prehistoric bugs were larger than average day bugs due to the higher oxygen levels. The Pulmonoscorpius kirktonensis was a species of scorpion that grew to 24 inches long, or the size of a normal house cat. Personally, I’m glad I these things don’t exist anymore. I’d never go outside ever again if they did.

Largest Radio Telescope in the World
As we continue the hunt for extraterrestrial life, we continue to build bigger and bigger telescopes. The biggest radio telescope to date is the Chinese Guizhou province telescope that is 1,600 feet in diameter. If placed in downtown Las Vegas it would cover half of The Mirage, all of the LINQ, all of Harrahs, and most of Venetian.

Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest standing structure in the world. It measures in at 2,722 feet tall. If placed in New York it would stretch almost 1,000 feet past the One World Trade center and almost 1,300 feet taller than the Empire State Building.

All images and captions via Kevin Wisbith.




High waves, violent winds, and extreme droughts can wreak terrible destruction—but they can also uncover amazing treasures. Severe weather has exposed Mayan hieroglyphics, medieval skeletons, ancient footprints, and much more. Here are 15 remarkable things revealed by weather.


In 2013, strong storms and erosion at Happisburgh, England cleared away sand and revealed curious depressions in mud. Archaeologists determined that they were human footprints—the oldest ever found outside of Africa. These people who made the footprints belonged to adifferent species of Homo than our own, and they lived between 1 million and 0.78 million years ago.


During the U.S. Civil War, President Lincoln ordered a blockade around southern ports to stop goods from passing through. The Confederacy responded with blockade runners, ships helmed by daring captains who ran cotton, medicine, ammunition, and other goods through the blockade.

The Mary Celestia was one such vessel. It served in this role for only two years before it hit a reef and sank. In recent years, severe hurricanes have stripped away sand from the wreck, and they’ve exposed all sorts of interesting archaeological artifacts—including a sealed bottle of wine. Was the vino still drinkable? Experts sipped it and declared that it mostly tasted like sludgy seawater with notes of … gasoline. Eww.


In 2015, a tempest in Collooney, Ireland toppled a huge beech tree—and hoisted half of a skeleton into the air. The bones belonged to an early medieval man who met a violent death from some sort of sharp blade. When the beech tree was toppled last year, the roots popped up from the soil, carrying the top half of the skeleton with them.


Wild weather at Cardigan Bay in Wales periodically strips away sand and uncovers an unusual sight: an ancient forest of tree stumps. In 2014 an especially powerful set of storms exposed much of the forest, giving us amazing views of the ancient trees, which died over 4500 years ago as sea levels rose and salt water inundated the land. Archaeologists also found a wooden walkway dating to between 3000 and 4000 years ago; perhaps the local people built it in an attempt to deal with rising seas.


When Hurricane Sandy blew through New York state’s Fire Island, it exposed the hull of a large ship. Experts believe—though they can’t confirm—that this vessel is the Bessie White, a Canadian coal schooner. The ship ran aground in 1919 or 1922 after it became lost in heavy fog. Fortunately, the naval disaster didn’t claim any lives. The whole crew survived, including the ship’s cat.


Explosives from past wars can still be found in our seas, and bad weather sometimes washes them ashore. In 2012, for example, crews in New Jersey found two unexploded shells while combing the beach after Superstorm Sandy. And in 2014, the Royal Navy was called in to examine a shell on a beach in Devon, England.


SS Monte Carlo Shipwreck

In the 1920s and 30s, you could evade the law and gamble to your heart’s content on “sin ships” off the California coast. Many of these vessels had once been used for honest work—some had belonged to the military—but they were rebuilt for drinking, gambling, and partying.

The Monte Carlo, a former oil tanker, was one such vessel. As a sin ship, it hosted such illustrious visitors as Mae West and Clark Gable. But on New Year’s Eve in 1936, a tremendous gale arose and the ship broke free of its moorings. Luckily, there were only two caretakers aboard, and they were safely rescued.

The ship washed up on the beach at Coronado the next day, New Year’s Day, and it still lies buried in the sand. But every now and then, storms remove enough sediment and it reappears. This past winter, El Nino storms gave beachgoers an impressive view of the wreckage— and a chance to stand where Hollywood stars once partied the night away.


Rough weather battered Shetland in Scotland during the 2012-2013 holiday season. It caused a cliff collapse that exposed a grisly sight: human remains. Archaeologists and police were quick to the scene—but it soon became apparent that the remains were a little too old for a homicide investigation. The bones dated from perhaps 2000 years ago. Unfortunately, afurther cliff collapse reburied the site, laying the bodies to rest once again…




…and how a greedy attitude to intellectual property made the camera’s primary competitor perish.

“Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted,” Susan Sontag wrote in her timeless and increasingly timely treatise on photography a century and a half after the invention of this worldview-changing technology, making a resounding case for what photography can do that the other arts can’t. But how did this relatively nascent art, succeeding cave paintings by millennia, become the dominant visual narrative form of our time?

In this short film, the Cooperative of Photography takes us on a five-minute animated gallop through some of the 100 ideas that changed photography, tracing the co-evolution of technology, art, and culture:

Complement with Italo Calvino on photography and the art of presence, Steven Johnson’s 600-year history of the selfie, Rebecca Solnit on how Muybridge’s pioneering chronophotography changed our consciousness, and Sontag on how photography mediates our relationship with life and death.

HT Open Culture




“These photographs were taken in Shanxi Province in northwest China. They document old customs originating from pagan ritual practices. They are, in effect, a voodoo-esque form of totem worship. A number of these ancient customs still survive and remain some of the most important cultural practices during the Lunar New Year throughout most of Shanxi. It appears that the participants have created a dramatic and otherworldly stage—dressing in stunning costumes and exquisitely painting their faces to represent the identities of Gods otherwise long forgotten.

When I first witnessed the participants line up and then parade around the village, I repeatedly kept asking myself whether I had literally stepped into some sort of wonderland. The scenes I gazed at were far too bizarre and illusionary to be connected to events in the real world.

Compared with the monotony of their usual rural lives, everyone involved into these celebrations transformed into something quite extraordinary—appearing no longer as mere peasants, but as powerful Gods from ancient mythology.With every glimpse of the unfolding events,

I saw an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness that saturated the atmosphere and I tried not to disturb this beautiful dream state I found myself in. I truly hoped that I would never wake up.”

Zhang Xiao (simplified Chinese: 张晓; traditional Chinese: 張曉, born 23 November 1981, in Yantai) is a Chinese photographer who  has published several series of photographs of China in flux. Zhang used a Holga again for the square, colour photographs of traditional rituals surrounding the lunar new year in Shaanxi. The book Shanxi was first published by Little Big Man in the United States; Sean O’Hagan describes it as “a seductive book, a glimpse of a world of pagan custom that somehow endures against the odds, dreamlike and entrancing”.












by Tyler Durden

There are movies, and then there is real life.

Global military spending rose to $1.68 trillion in 2015, making up about 2.3 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, according to Bloomberg. To document a small portion of it, over the past four years, photographer Guillaume Herbaut has been traveling to Jordan, Qatar, France, and India to look beyond the glossy veneer of the world’s weapons markets.

This is what he found.

* * *

Qatari delegate with the Turkish-made 9 mm semi-automatic Pistom MKE T 94K and the 9 mm submachine gun MP5-K at the Milipol regional event in defense and internal security in Doha, Qatar.

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army officer tests an American-made rifle at the Special Operations Forces Exhibition & Conference (Sofex) in Amman, Jordan.

Delegates inspect the Main Battle Tank MBT, manufactured by the German company Rheinmetall, at the Eurosatory International Weapons Show in France.

Detail of the VBCI casevac (Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’infanterie) on the Nexter display during the Eurosatory International Weapons Show in France.

Delegate from Belerus (center) and others during the opening ceremony of Defexpo: Land, Naval, and Internal Security Systems Exhibition in New Dehli, India.

The display of the Spanish company Radete at the Milipol regional event in defense and internal security in Doha, Qatar.

Riot gear made by the French company Protecop during an outdoor demonstration at the Eurosatory International Weapons Show in France.

Hostesses at the OFB (Ordnance Factory Board) display at Defexpo: Land, Naval, and Internal Security Systems Exhibition in New Dehli, India.

Chemical protective suit on display at the Matisec booth at Eurosatory International Weapons Show in France.

Delegates at the Sig Sauer display at the Defexpo: Land, Naval, and Internal Security Systems Exhibition in New Dehli, India.

A demonstration by the Wolf security company from France, specializing in security training, at the Milipol regional event in defense and internal security in Doha, Qatar.


The Tommanikin trauma manikin designed by U.S. Security Assistance for classroom settings and field training scenarios, at the Eurosatory International Weapons Show in France.

Masaku Paul Mutul of the Kenyan defense forces at the Arsenal Bulgarian display at the Defexpo: Land, Naval, and Internal Security Systems Exhibition in New Dehli, India.

The fuel tanker truck Carapace developed by the French Army during an outdoor  demonstrations, at the Eurosatory International Weapons Show in France.

* * *

And remember, if you want to grow GDP when all else fails, you start using what you bought above.



Taxpayers in Brazil will spend over £3.8 billion to host the Games this year. Meanwhile, many of Rio’s citizens will watch the excitement from rooftops because they cannot afford to attend.


The Olympic Games are in full swing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but what few in the world know is that the majority of citizens in the lush country cannot even afford to attend the event which is costing taxpayers £3.8 billion. 

Indeed, the average Brazilian makes less than £400 a month, and cannot in good conscience spend the £23 for one ticket. In effect, many have been watching the Games from the rooftops of slums, and the photos captured by artists of them doing so paint an accurate picture of what blind consumerism has helped create in this world.

If you need more visual evidence to understand just how wasteful the Olympic Games are – and have been – in years past, the following photos do an excellent job of validating the fact that the money invested in the tradition could probably be better spent.

Though the Olympic Games have been taking place every four years in various locations around the world since 1896, many of the venues have been abandoned and/or forgotten by the public. From Beijing to Berlin, from Athens to Atlanta, there are a number of spaces which could have been re-used or repurposed to hold the Games.

This inspires one to ask the question: “If the indigenous in Brazil are suffering through one of the worst crises in decades and millions still live in poverty, how can spending billions on the Games be justified?”

As you reach for an answer to this question, scroll through the following 30 photos, compiled and captioned by Bored Panda, which reveal what has become of venues in the past that once attracted millions for the Games.

#1 Bobsled Track, Sarajevo, 1984 Winter Olympics Venue

The disused bobsled track from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics is seen on Mount Trebevic, near Sarajevo, September 19, 2013. Abandoned and left to crumble into oblivion, most of the 1984 Winter Olympic venues in Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo have been reduced to rubble by neglect as much as the 1990s conflict that tore apart the former Yugoslavia.

Credit: Dado Ruvic

Credit: Dado Ruvic

#2 Bobsleigh Track, Sarajevo, 1984 Winter Olympics

The bobsleigh and luge track at Mount Trebevic, the Mount Igman ski-jumping course and related infrastructure are crumbling more and more with each passing year. But adrenaline, fear and exhilaration are back on the bobsleigh track as downhill bikers Kemal Mulic, Tarik Hadzic and Kamer Kolar train on the graffiti-covered concrete.

Credit: Dado Ruvic
Credit: Dado Ruvic

#3 Olympic Village, Athens, 2004 Summer Olympics Venue

An abandoned training pool for athletes at the Olympic Village.

Credit: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP

Credit: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP

#4 Ski Jump Tower, Cortina D’ampezzo, Italy, 1956 Winter Olympics Venue

Interesting fact about these ski jumping towers is that the Swiss jumper, Andreas Dascher introduced a new style of jumping, which would soon come to be known as the Dascher technique. Before these Games, the athletes would hold their arms forward over their heads. Dascher reasoned that if the athlete held his arms at his side he would fly farther. Adherents to this new style dominated the competition.

Fabio Gregoroni

Fabio Gregoroni

#5 Swimming Pool, Berlin, 1936 Summer Olympics Venue

View of the swimming pool in the 1936 Olympic village in Elstal, west of Berlin. The village, which housed over 4.000 athletes for the notorious 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, then under Nazi rule, was used as barracks for the German army shortly afterwards, and from 1945 as barracks for Russian officers, until the Russian army’s final withdrawal in 1992.

Credit: Peter Bromley

Credit: Peter Bromley


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Credit: Jay Weinstein

Credit: Jay Weinstein




Photograph from the Catacombs in Palermo by Peter HujarOne of Hujar’s photographs from the Catacombs in Palermo

“We no longer study the art of dying, a regular discipline and hygiene in older cultures; but all eyes, at rest, contain that knowledge. The body knows. And the camera shows, inexorably.”

“Life is a movie. Death is a photograph,” Susan Sontag(January 16, 1933–December 28, 2004) wrote in The Benefactor, her 1963 debut novel. That year — the year she turned thirty and began writing her masterworkAgainst Interpretation — she met the photographer Peter Hujar (October 11, 1934–November 26, 1987). The shared sensibility Sontag instantly intuited was further affirmed three years later when Hujar showed her the extraordinary photographs he had taken in the Catacombs at Palermo, which impressed themselves upon Sontag’s imagination so profoundly as to become the landscape of the final scene in her second novel, Death Kit.

In 1976, a year before she published what remains the finest, sharpest, most prescient thing ever written about photography, Sontag agreed to write the introduction to Hujar’s slim, stunning coffee table book Portraits in Life and Death (public library) — a collection of his Palermo photographs alongside uncommonly soulful portraits of people in his life, including John Waters, William S. Burroughs, Fran Lebowitz, John Ashbery, Candy Darling, his partner David Wojnarowicz, and Sontag herself.

Sontag’s introduction examines how photography mediates the relationship between life and death, and has only swelled with significance and cultural relevance in the decades since, as we have shuttered and pixelated our way into this life-as-commemoration-of-itself age of ours. She writes:

Photographs turn the present into past, make contingency into destiny. Whatever their degree of “realism,” all photographs embody a “romantic” relation to reality.

I am thinking of how the poet Novalis defined Romanticism: to make the familiar appear strange, the marvelous appear commonplace. The camera’s uncanny mechanical replication of persons and events performs a kind of magic, both creating and de-creating what is photographed. To take pictures is, simultaneously, to confer value and to render banal.

This dual function, Sontag argues, renders photography a vehicle of mythmaking, embedded in whose claim to immortality is the pulsating awareness and even fetishizing of mortality:

Photographs instigate, confirm, seal legends. Seen through photographs, people become icons of themselves. Photography converts the world itself into a department store or museum-without-walls in which every subject is depreciated into an article of consumption, promoted into an item for esthetic appreciation.

Photography also converts the whole world into a cemetery. Photographers, connoisseurs of beauty, are also — wittingly or unwittingly — the recording-angels of death. The photograph-as-photograph shows death. More than that, it shows the sex-appeal of death.

Reflecting on Hujar’s subjects, who “appear to meditate on their own mortality,” Sontag considers the strange and rather delusional defiance that defines our relationship with death, that most natural and inevitable of experiences — a defiance that has only grown more vehement and belligerent in the decades since, with only occasional beacons of lucidity. Half a millennium after Montaigne observed that “to lament that we shall not be alive a hundred years hence, is the same folly as to be sorry we were not alive a hundred years ago,”





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